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They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure of what a student knows. But the reality is that teacher grading practices can be wildly uneven across schools—and even within them. For instance, one math teacher might be an extraordinarily lenient grader, while another might be brutally hard: Getting an A means something very different. Teacher grading can be subjective in other ways, including favoritism towards certain students, and it can find its basis in non-achievement factors like classroom behavior, participation, or attendance.

But when students take a standardized exam, a much clearer view of academic mastery emerges. Standardized assessments of achievement can be used for comparison and accountability purposes, both of which are discussed in turn. The very objectivity of standardized exams yields comparability of student achievement, a desirable feature for parents and practitioners alike.

The Effects of Standardized Testing | T. Kelleghan | Springer

Most parents, for example, would like to know whether their child is meeting state benchmarks, or how she compares to statewide peers. Statewide standardized exams give parents this important information. Meanwhile, school-shopping parents have every right to inspect and compare the standardized test results from a range of schools, including charters, district schools, and STEM schools, before selecting a school for their child.

For instance, the principal of East Elementary could compare the achievement of her students against those attending West Elementary, the district average, the county average, and the statewide average. How do her students stack up? Only a statewide standardized test could tell. Interestingly, proposals have been floated to allow schools to select their own assessment—a pick-your-own-assessment policy. This is a flawed idea and should be rejected. It would undermine the comparability principle of statewide testing.

First, to be clear, standardized exams are not the all the same. Should we infer that Columbus students are actually achieving at higher levels than Worthington? Or is the test just different? State assessment policy should not amount to a Choose Your Own Adventure for districts and schools.

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Instead, Ohio legislators must continue to implement a single, coherent system of standardized exams that provides comparable results. Like it or not, standardized exam data remain the best way to hold schools accountable for their academic performance.

Is Standardized Testing Bad?

To its great credit, Ohio is implementing a cutting-edge school accountability system. All of these outcome measures are based on standardized test results. The information from these accountability measures enables policymakers to identify the schools that need intervention, up to closure. For example, the charter school automatic closure law uses state exam results—both school-level value added and proficiency—to determine which schools must close. In addition, districts can go into state oversight via the Academic Distress Commission if they are low-performing along test-based outcomes.

Another use of standardized testing data is coming in the area of deregulation. How are these high performers identified? Robots do not make for a better society. It seems no matter what, you are not going to make everyone happy. The important thing is like said to recognize your ignorance and learn to make the best choice at the time. I wonder, with cutting edge research, if you can ever test for skills at that.

So many people who come up with new ideas are way out there and unique, so it is less important for them to follow the traditional track.

Effects of repeated assessment on standardized test performance by infants.

With the rest of us, we need structure. You bring up a good point, that some students need structure. I am not against data driven instruction when it is reliable, varied, fair, and reasonable. What worries me is the Walmartization of education where children are reduced to numbers on a spreadsheet. The academic success of a child or teacher cannot be reduced to a number.

I am vexed when we use standardized testing with myopic zeal when it is historically riddled with racism and inequity. Thanks for your comment, Katie.

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I agree data driven instruction can be useful, but not when we are using the same measurements that created the problem in the first place. Standardized testing should only be used as a diagnostic tool to measure what students know and what skills need to be taught and reviewed. Punishing schools, teachers, students, et al, for poor performance on tests serves no one.

Instead, resources in addition to money and time should be directed to those who are underperforming to close gaps. Is it any wonder that schools with a lower average socioeconomic status generally are behind those with higher SES figures? Bryan, exactly. And those gaps will continue to grow if our attitude toward measurement remains the same. We already took a giant leap backward in knowledge transmission and memory recall when we went from oral culture to written culture.


Think Library of Alexandria. Could that loss of information have happened in an oral culture, short of massacring everyone in the social group? And by the way? Education is not for getting a job. You mean vo-tech training. We all need a base of knowledge. I would never propose otherwise. This needs to change if students hope to have successful careers. I love this article and wish every parent and administrator could read it.

As a parent of bright boys, who process information in an out-of-the-box way, I see the struggles students face. We are taking very capable kids and turning them into robots. We are messing with their confidence with standardized tests that is putting misguided pressure on them.

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Thank you for this article. I was so happy to see that someone understands what our system is doing. High schools do not get students ready for the college life ahead of them. Standardized tests, like you said, do not teach kids useful life skills and can cause negative affects, such as low self esteem and unnecessary competition to see who got the better scores or who just memorized the most material and did not actually learn and obtain it for the future. These tests are very basic and do not use any creativity, since there is only one specific answer and timed, so it can also cause a lot of stress.

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  • The positive with these tests is that schools get funding, which goes back to getting better classroom materials and a better learning environment. Overall, I think that the negatives outweigh the positives and the tests can be carried out in a better way for the kids taking them. Standardized tests are normed-referenced tests. The problems began when around 25 years ago districts started to pressure individual schools regarding their results, and then the schools pressured the teachers, and the teachers the students.

    The results of this are a sickening distortion of schooling and a diminishment of educational possibilities, as districts, schools and teachers focus on competitive test taking rather than the development of fully-functioning lifelong learners and critical thinkers. Standardized testing hurts the overall quality of education if it is the only way to measure student knowledge, assess teacher qualification, and determine school funding. Despite the possible good intentions of the government to improve student performance locally and internationally, as well as bring teachers to responsibility for low assessment results and reduce learning gap between students of different socio-economic backgrounds, the plan did not fulfill public expectations.

    Mandatory high-stake testing has been severely criticized by educators and parents, and rightfully so. Since the annual government-mandated testing was implemented in the frame of No Child Left Behind Act in , schools have narrowed their curriculum to only reflect the material that is present on tests, while cutting on subjects like science, foreign languages, or arts.

    Teachers report spending up to hours a year preparing students for tests through drills and test-related strategies. Despite the efforts that are put on achieving high scores, student performance did not improve nationwide, and dropped on the international arena. In addition, many talented educators have left or are considering leaving the profession due to unbearable pressure or unrealistic expectations from the government.